Priebus Dismisses Concerns About Steve Bannon Working In White House

Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, who is set to serve as Donald Trump's chief of staff, on Monday morning defended Steve Bannon, a voice of the alt-right who will serve as Trump's chief strategist and senior counsel, during an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

"That's not the Steve Bannon that I know. and I've spent a lot of time with him and here's a guy that's a Harvard business school, London school of economics. Ten-year naval officer advising admirals. He was a force for good on the campaign at every level that I saw all the time," Priebus told "Morning Joe" when first asked about concerns about Bannon.

"This is all about achieving President-elect Trump's agenda. And I can assure you and I think it's important and I know President-elect Trump wants everyone to understand this, all Americans out there, no matter your race, your gender, your ethnic background, he wants to make you proud of our country, he wants to serve you," he added.

When asked again about Bannon and the "hatred" that he has stoked, Priebus called on Americans not to judge Bannon.

"I think everyone out there can agree that you judge people as you see them, not as other people have said," Priebus said. "That's what I would say is that it's what people do. It's how people act on a day-to-day basis. And that’s nothing I’ve ever seen. I've only seen a generous, hospitable, wise person to work with. So at the end of the day, this campaign worked because factions within our party were represented."

He added that Trump "listens to a lot of people."

"If anyone thinks I'm the only one that's going to walk in to that office and say, this is what you have to do, I think in a lot of cases, he takes the advice," Preibus said. "But he likes to listen to a lot of people. That's a good thing. That's what you want from a president."

Trump brought on Bannon, a former executive news website Breitbart, as CEO of his campaign in August. While Bannon led Breitbart, the site promoted anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim stories, and Bannon boasted that the website was a "platform for the alt-right.". The site once called Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol a "renegade Jew." And Bannon himself has allegedly used anti-Semitic slurs, according to his ex-wife.

A former Breitbart staffer, Ben Shapiro, criticized Bannon for giving a voice to white nationalists.

"Breitbart has become the alt-right go-to website, with Yiannopoulos pushing white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness, and the comment section turning into a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers," Shapiro wrote after he left Breitbart.

Watch Priebus' interview via MSNBC:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.
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